Q&A – Spooning Leaves

Gwen asks Annie:

Q Hi Annie,

I’ve been working diligently with AV for 2 years; most effort I’ve given any plant! I’m quite frustrated; but I’m not giving up! I just want to grow nice large healthy nice looking AV’s for my own enjoyment…ugh!🤣

I’ve learned a lot, and made adjustments, but since my plants don’t flatten and look great out, I still need to work out the balance of light, water, soil. I believe I’m good on the soil (doing wick and modified Texas with #4 perlite) but I’m unsure if issue is light or something else. I recently lowered my plants from the LED light trying to figure out this curling leaves issue. I thought there was too much light but I haven’t seen an improvement and they seem to look lighter and still curling. I did the TP test on largest one but no effect but only did for 4 days.

Before I move onto ph testing, (which I can’t believe I’m thinking about but it tells you how badly I want to successfully grow an AV😁) I thought I’d show you for your opinion.

I do also have a fertilizer concern. I’m using Jacks so has a high P amount. Continuous feeding at 1/8-1/4 tsp in gallon water (well water). Of course everyone has a recommendation from all even numbers or something like jacks. Stopping fertilizing for a week and starting with something more balanced was my next plan of attack or getting some ph strips..ugh.🤣

I’ve been working with cheaper plants ‘practicing’ these past years with big box store AV with the hope of getting the light, soil, water, dialed in before ordering online from Violet Barn. But, I’m giving in next month after winter rates expire [this question was asked in March 2019] so thank you for any input on these curling and marked leaves!

Photo 1 - Gwen's Plant Curling inward, discolored and marked leaves.s
Photo 1 – Gwen’s Plant Curling inward, discolored and marked leaves.

Annie asked Gwen for some additional information and she said that the violets in question were from a big box store and she followed up further:

Follow up to AV diagnosis question sent last night. I was thinking about my writing about well water and thought, maybe I’m wrong, and the water I’m using goes thru the softener so I asked my husband. Turns out it does! So ph likely is way off for the AV’s. I didn’t think about soft water as an issue since watering house plants for 20 years (succulents, spider, gryphon, holiday cactus, wandering jew, and no issues with them, but they are not AV’s! So, I’ll be filling up with unsoftened water from outside pipe to see if there is an improvement!

I do still feel there may be a light issue (along with ph and nutrient) even though I’ve lowered the plants farther away from the LED’s. The largest one was a better color (darker green and not so light) under natural light, but being winter here in northern MN I felt the leaves were reaching for light so I brought it back down to LED’s to see if I could get the leaves to flatten out, and to stop curing upward, but now the color is worse, (and I just saw powdery mildew on one leaf this morning…OMG) so I’m bringing them back up to natural light to re-test.

Photo 2 - Gwen's Plants - leaves curling up and also down.
Photo 2 – Gwen’s Plants – leaves curling up and also down.

My main crux is that I’ve never been able to achieve (maintain) a consistent flat-leaf growth….no reaching, no curling, no deformities. Plantlets may start out flat, but grow straight up and thinking they aren’t getting enough light given my winter light I put them under LED’s and while they may come down a little, they all start to curl (shown by the other smaller AV photos).

Photo 3 - Gwen's plants curling, and center leaves crowded and disfigured.
Photo 3 – Gwen’s plants curling, and center leaves crowded and disfigured.

A Hi Gwen!

Thanks for the additional information you provided. I would recommend that you not use water that has been chemically softened, but I have never seen plants spoon in this way unless they were hybridized to do so. So, I went to our resident expert, Joyce. Here is what she said:

This isn’t pest or disease. It is definitely something in the culture. Water softener victims would typically have outer leaves dying off with lots of evidence of salt damage. It may be a pH issue. Jack’s lacks sulfur in their formulation which naturally lowers pH. If she is in an area with high pH water and uses Jack’s, the pH in the root zone will stay quite high. That could fit what I am seeing here. Center leaves curling up is one symptom of a lack of zinc. I can’t find a full analysis of Jack’s to know if zinc is present or not. If she were going to change something blindly to see if it helped, I’d suggest a change in fertilizer. DynaGro 7-9-5 does supply zinc.

Gwen, I hope this information helps you!